USA (MNN) — At a January 18th missions seminar focused on reconciliation within the Church to improve mobilization efforts, SIM International made a formal apology to African-American missionaries who had been denied service with the agency in the past.
After Director Steve Strauss gave the apology, he washed the feet of three African-American missionaries as a symbol of SIM's repentance.
What's now seen as a prejudicial practice of denying African-Americans the right to serve as missionaries was done to comply with colonial governments in areas of Africa where predecessors of the current SIM workers did not want African-American missionaries sent. The
organization complied and stopped the acceptance of African-American missionaries. Though the policy later changed, SIM noticed that the practice was never acknowledged.
They responded in July of 2007 with an apology statement and request for forgiveness.
Over the past eight to ten years, SIM has been sorting through the inevitable baggage that has accumulated during their 115 year history.
SIM has always worked in a diverse mission field but over the past few years addressed the exclusivity issue in other areas. They noted a lack of diversity in their
board of governance, church connections, leadership, hiring, recruiting.
One of their Core Values is "Strengthened by Diversity." This apology is a forward-looking act and a sign that they desire to live out what they stand for.